The hedgehog is a spiny little mammal that is found in many parts of Asia, Europe, Africa, and in New Zealand. Hedgehogs are not native to Australia, and you won’t find any species that are native to the Americas.
However, hedgehogs have become a very popular pet and you might find them scurrying around in your backyard from time to time.
The hedgehog is perhaps most recognizable because of the spines on its back. The spines are stiffened using keratin.
Unlike the quills on a porcupine, you don’t need to worry about them shooting out their spines. But, the immature ones usually detach the spines as they are growing and bigger ones replace them.
Hedgehogs make for fun pets. For starters, they are incredibly cute, and it’s always fun to have a little hedgehog in your bedroom. However, most people buy these animals without doing any research, and often regret their decision later on. First of all, you should know that hedgehogs poop a lot.
In fact, many people would go so far as to say that hedgehogs usually poop all the time! The young ones are actually quite fond of pooping while doing other activities, such as running around their cage or while running on the wheel.
However, as the hedgehog grows and matures, they are able to hold their poop for longer periods of time, and with a bit of dedication, you can even teach the animal to poop in specific places. Yes, litter training with a hedgehog is possible.
However, even so, the pooping problem is actually quite a big one. For starters, hedgehog poop smells a lot, and if you don’t clean it quickly, the smell will soon begin to spread to different parts of the house.
Why Does the Hedgehog Poop This Much?
You should know thatpooping is normal for these hedgehogs, because they tend to get frightened very easily. Any loud noises are going to scare the hedgehog, and they use pooping as a reflex mechanism.
Whenever you take the hedgehog out, it is going to poop. This is something that you must make your peace with.
Secondly, these little animals have an incredibly fast metabolism. As a result of that, their bodies process food very quickly, and they end up pooping as soon as they are able to.
The reason why this can be so frustrating is that unlike other animals, the hedgehog doesn’t really smell the place where it’s going to poop; they just poop anywhere they can.
The hedgehog body doesn’t have a cecum, and because it’s so small, the animal is unable to efficiently process cellulose. Most people usually feet cat kibble to their hedgehogs, which is processed much faster than conventional cellulose. As a result, whatever they eat also comes out much sooner.
The funny thing is that it takes just around 12 to 14 hours for whatever the hedgehog has eaten to come out. To compare with humans, it takes around 24 to 72 hours for food in a human’s stomach to move through the intestinal tract.
Have you ever taken a look at your hedgehog’s running wheel? You will realize that it might be covered with poop. Have you ever wondered why the hedgehog poops this much when it is running? Understanding what leads the animal to poop this much when running is important as well.
Imagine a hedgehog pooping while it is running. This basically happens due to the excessive movement that stimulates the large intestine of the hedgehog. Despite the fact that hedgehogs have very small legs, you might be surprised to know that they run incredibly fast.
Before you know it, the turd they drop on the running wheel is going to come full circle, and the animal’s legs are going to be covered by it. Within a few rolls, the entire wheel is going to be covered with poop. It’s a disgusting sight, but one that almost all hedgehog owners might be quite familiar with.
It’s also important to note that hedgehogs are likely to poop virtually anywhere they can. That is one of the main reasons why you might want to consider arranging the layout of the hedgehog’s cage so that they are able to get a larger space for pooping.
You also need to know that litter training your hedgehog is possible, though it’s going to require a considerable effort on your part. You need to make sure that you regularly observe the animal to identify its pooping pattern before you can start with the litter training.
However, expecting that the animal will never have accidents is a fantasy. You need to understand that there are going to be times when the animal will have an accident, even though it is going to be quite rare.
The hedgehog will learn to get off the wheel to poop, but there are always going to be times when the animal will simply not be able to contain themselves or get off on time, and so, accidents are going to happen.
Is There Anything You Can Do About it?
Unfortunately, no. There’s not a lot that you can do to prevent the hedgehog from pooping. Litter training is perhaps the only option available to you, and even that is spotty at best. The animal’s nature is such that it likes to run and poop, and it’s a pretty frequent occurrence.
While you can’t mess with their metabolism, there are a few things that you can do to improve the cage for your hedgehog, and also reduce the smell for a bit. The best thing to do is litter train the animal. This is going to ensure that they avoid pooping in places that are supposed to remain clean inside their cage.
However, apart from litter training, there are steps that you can take to improve the smell and make the place a bit cleaner. Here’swhat you can do.
Getting Rid of the Smell of Hedgehog Poop
The first step is to make sure that you clean the hedgehog’s cage as frequently as possible. If you don’t clean the hedgehog’s cage on a frequent basis, the smell is only going to worsen with the passage of time, until it becomes absolutely unbearable within a few days.
Some people might recommend that you clean the cage once a week, but that’s a bad idea. By the end of the week, the smell inside the cage is going to become just about unbearable.
You need to make it a habit to clean the cage on a daily basis. It is important that you use vinegar when cleaning the different objects in the cage to get rid of the smell.
Another thing that you can do is ensure that you keep the cage in a properly ventilated area where it’s going to receive lots of sunlight. This way, the smell is going to have a proper passage to escape from. It definitely beats keeping the cage in your bedroom or in any other closed environment where it’s going to stick around.
On top of that, you will need to invest in high-quality hedgehog bedding. There are high-quality beddings available in the market that are able to capture a considerable amount of the smell. They might cost a bit more money, but they are also going to last you much longer.
You will just have to make sure that you clean the bedding on a bi-weekly basis and also clean the fleece as often as possible. The stink of urine can be cleaned with the help of bleach. Just make sure that you glove up and avoid getting any bleach on yourself.
You might have realized that the hedgehog’s feet get quite dirty (the animal definitely doesn’t mind running around in its poop). You might want to consider using a soft toothbrush to remove the gunk that usually gets stuck in the animal’s feet.
A common mistake that many people make is that they tend to use soapy water to massage the hedgehog’s feet. That’s a bad idea; always use regular water as their skin is going to get quite dry. Finally, use a soft and warm towel to dry the hedgehog properly.
An important thing that you need to keep in mind is that their eating plates and their wheel needs to be cleaned on a daily basis. You need to make sure that you clean those two things on a regular basis because hedgehogs love to poop and pee when they are running.
As mentioned, you might be able to litter train the animal, but accidents are quite common. If you ignore the cleaning process for even a day or two, you will notice that the running wheel will be covered in poop.
The hedgehog is not a particularly clean animal, and it’s going to require a considerable amount of maintenance and cleaning on your part to keep it clean.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems and over 10 years of experience working in IT. I have a wife and two children and love taking them to the zoo to see all the animals. I grew up with dogs and fish and now have two dogs and two cats. I’ve also played guitar for almost 20 years and love writing music, although it’s hard to find the time these days.